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The 5 Pillars of CBT

CBT (cognitive Behavioural Therapy) was originally developed in the 1960’s by Aaron Beck who argued that our internal dialogue (the voice inside our own heads) and rationales were more influential to our feelings than what we might ‘say’ out loud.

He recognised that the ‘way’ that we think about things determined our experience of ‘reality’ through our core ‘values’ and ‘beliefs’, many of which we will have ‘inherited’ throughout our early socialisation.

In other words, we each ascribe different ‘meanings’ to experiences depending on what our core beliefs are.

He also noted that our thoughts affect our feelings, but our feelings also affect our thoughts, so it is possible to change the ‘way’ that we think by changing the way we ‘behave’!

These ideas led him to postulate the 5 key principles on which CBT is currently used in modern psychotherapy.

The effectiveness of this type of therapy depends on five key CBT Principles which underpin the philosophy of the technique.

Pillar 1: There is always another point of view.

The human mind is perfectly capable of interpreting and organising inputs in different ways and in fact does so with an enormous amount of variety and subtlety.

Pillar 2Events don’t cause feelings.

It’s not what happens around us that makes us feel a certain way, but how we interpret those events. We often claim that external events determine how we feel, but it is what we think those external events ‘mean’ that creates the reaction to those events!

Pillar 3We all develop unique ways of seeing the world.

Our ‘view’ of how the world works is unique to us and is not a true representation of reality, known as perceptual constructivism. We have a tendency, as humans, to assume that if ‘we’ believe this is the ‘way the world works’, that other people MUST also see it that way. This is not true.

Pillar 4Mind affects body affects mind.

Cognition (thoughts) creates behaviours and feelings and feelings can give rise to thoughts! So we can create new reactions and experiences by changing either our thoughts or our behaviours – this is why it is called ‘Cognitive’ (thinking) Behavioural (feelings and actions) Therapy.

Pillar 5: Our minds are scientific.

Our minds are constantly creating new theories and hypotheses leading to the creation of ‘beliefs’.

By understanding these five CBT principles you give yourself the opportunity to make fundamental changes to your life problems and challenges.

Each of these ideas are evidence-based and have been established, through decades of research and application, to be highly effective for a very wide range of psychological problems.

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About the Course Author

Paul is an academic and practicing psychologist with both a BSc. (Hons) and a Master’s MSc. (Distinction) degree in Applied Psychology.

Master Psychologist Paul Lee

He has been offering clinical psychology and counselling to private clients along with a small team of therapists from the Tranceform Psychology offices in Wombourne near Wolverhampton since 2009.